Guest Post by Martha Duesterhoft
A study conducted by Bersin & Associates, showed that organizations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coach. Many people are unsure what is different about a coaching approach, so let me outline some key descriptors:
Coaches take an Ask vs. Tell approach. Don’t tell the employee what to do, instead ask powerful questions. This allows the employee to create their own solutions. When they go through the thought process to get to resolution, they are much more bought-in…it’s their idea!
Coaches focus on the employee vs. the task —it’s about their development.
Coaching is not about “fixing” anyone. Again, it’s about their development and facilitating the learning process. Coaches set up a clear accountability structure for action & outcomes. It helps keep the employee focused on achieving the desired goals. Coaching is something that can/should happen as needed and in-the-moment, which is the best way for learning to occur. It’s a great way to reinforce what may have been learned in the classroom by capitalizing on those on-the-job learning experiences.
So how can a Manager behave more like a Coach?
- Ask good questions to enable the process.
- Meet the employee where they are.
- Guide (through questions, not directives) the conversation to a mutual agreement of the priorities of development.
- Ensure that the feedback information is heard and understood by the employee. Again, asking clarifying questions is the best way to do this.
- Do your part to support the employee through a shared commitment to their goals, responsibilities and action steps.
The Heart of Coaching = Effective Conversations
What makes a conversation “effective”? It’s about a dialogue (asking), not a monologue (telling). The best coaching questions are:
- Focused on useful outcomes
- Non-judgmental (don’t ask “why?”)
Here are some examples of good open-ended questions compared to the close-ended version:
- Where are you on “x” job?
- How can I help you?
- Can you tell me about this error?
- What criteria are you using?
- What other approaches might you take next time?
- How are your emotions influencing your perception of the situation?
- Are you finished with “x” job yet?
- What’s your problem?
- Are you responsible for this error?
- Will this really solve the problem?
- What in the world made you do it?
- That’s clear enough, isn’t it?
- Didn’t I go over this already?
- Why didn’t you do “x”?
So are you up for the challenge? Your employees, the business and your career will all benefit if you begin to operate in Manager as Coach mindset. Your employees will be developed and challenged in way that they truly build new skills and learn from experiences and your career will blossom if you are known to be a good developer of people – a critical skill for long-term success!
Note from Bob: You have very likely worked with multiple leaders/managers during your career. Which ones were the best? Which ones have you sought to emulate? Did they seek to develop you by telling you what to do? Or by asking you great questions?
Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults, a consultancy that guides organizations and individuals to “start the wave” of change. Martha provides executive coaching with a focus on leadership behaviors and has worked on various projects with clients including PepsiCo, Microsoft, McKesson, Bell Helicopter, Catholic Charities, Texas Christian University and many others on how to realize results through people. Martha is an instructor for Southern Methodist University’s Executive Education. Contact her at mduesterhoft@people-results.